View of the Philadelphia Volunteer Refreshment Saloons

View of the Philadelphia Volunteer Refreshment Saloons

Usage conditions apply
This print contains illustrations of the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon and the Cooper Shop Volunteer Refreshment Saloon. Located on a railroad hub linking the North and the South, the saloons were staffed by volunteers and provided relief for Union troops to soldiers on their way to or returning from battlefields in the South. Its services included warm meals, temporary housing, medical services, and washing facilities. Over the course of the war, these saloons assisted more than one million Union military personnel. In the central image of the print, formations of troops march down the road, cheered on by a crowd of civilians. Lines of soldiers wait to enter the Union Volunteer Refreshment Saloon, while another regiment of troops in the street wait to board a Philadelphia, Wilmington, & Baltimore railroad car, bound for the battlefront. The images to the left and right of the central one depict the facility’s washing and cooking departments. In a lower image, men and women volunteers prepare long tables covered in dishes and food. In the lower left image, a group of Zouaves wait in line outside the storefront of William Cooper, who converted his place of business into a refreshment saloon during the war years. A flag outside of the building reads, “Union Now and Forever / Death to Traitors.” The lower right illustration shows the interior of the Cooper saloon. A large American flag is draped across the ceiling and, underneath, long tables are set with dishes. The names of members of the Volunteer Refreshment Committee are listed in the margin below the illustration.
The Philadelphia saloons received support from the United States Sanitary Commission, a relief agency approved by the War Department on June 18, 1861 to provide assistance to sick, wounded, and travelling Union soldiers. Although the leaders of the Commission were men, the agency depended on thousands of women, who collected donations, volunteered as nurses in hospitals, and offered assistance at rest stations and refreshment saloons. They also sponsored Sanitary Fairs in Northern cities, raising millions of dollars used to send food, clothing, and medicine to Union soldiers.
The print was created by James Fuller Queen, a pioneering chromolithographer active in Philadelphia, who served in a Civil War militia between 1862 and 1863. Its printer, Thomas S. Sinclair, was a Scottish immigrant to Philadelphia who worked in the lithographic shop of John Collins, before taking over the business the next year. His firm was profitable into the 1880s, producing maps, city views, certificates, book illustrations, political cartoons, sheet music covers, and fashion advertisements. The scene of the saloons was published by Job T. Williams, the Steward of the Volunteer Refreshment Committee.
Currently not on view
Object Name
Object Type
Date made
Sinclair, Thomas
Queen, James
place made
United States: Pennsylvania, Philadelphia
image: 20 in x 26 1/4 in; 50.8 cm x 66.675 cm
ID Number
catalog number
Credit Line
Harry T. Peters "America on Stone" Lithography Collection
Architecture, Commercial Buildings
Patriotism and Patriotic Symbols
Uniforms, Military
Civil War
Civic Associations
Chronology: 1860-1869
Civil War
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
American Civil War Prints
Data Source
National Museum of American History
Nominate this object for photography.   

Our collection database is a work in progress. We may update this record based on further research and review. Learn more about our approach to sharing our collection online.

If you would like to know how you can use content on this page, see the Smithsonian's Terms of Use. If you need to request an image for publication or other use, please visit Rights and Reproductions.


Add a comment about this object